BLAST COURSES IN THE HUMANITIES (from AGHI on Hopkins@Home)
Course Title: “Discriminating Taste: Understanding the French Approach to Fashion, Conversation, Food, and Art"
Dates: Mondays/Thursdays from July 13th through August 14th (5 weeks)
Class Type: 1 lecture + 1 live discussion meeting (Zoom, Thurs. at 8 PM) per week
Course Description: France. Whether you have travelled there by plane or only in your imagination, you have likely sensed that, although the United States is a wealthier and mightier nation by far, France nevertheless retains a certain cultural superiority over her younger sibling. Indeed, the entire world seems to bow to the French in matters of taste: the Michelin Guide, haute couture, the Louvre, and the art of French living all seem to occupy the upper limits of our collective imagination of artistic and cultural aspirations. Why?
In this course, we will investigate the nature, meaning and historical foundations of French authority in matters of taste with reference to its most celebrated thinkers, monarchs, and tastemakers. Special attention will be paid to the relationship between taste and politics, special hierarchies of taste, and taste and social class. Certain ethical issues will arise during the course of the lectures, such as whether French taste deserves our allegiance and the effects of globalization on cultural identities generally. By the end of the five-week period, you will have pierced the mystery of the French je ne sais quoi once and for all! Or, at the very least, you will be familiar with important French thinkers and artists from the early modern period and their influence on contemporary life and current debates.
This course is open to anyone who agrees with Oscar Wilde’s statement that “you can never be overdressed or overeducated.” All lectures and materials will be provided in English. Minimal reading assignments will also be provided.
Schedule: Each week a video lecture will be made available to you by 8am on Monday that you may enjoy at your convenience, but no later than by Thursday of that week. On Thursday evenings at 8pm, we will meet online for a live discussion of the lecture where your questions and comments will be most welcome.
Instructor: Dr. Nicole Karam, Modern Languages and Literatures—French (she/her)
Open to the public
[image: The Enceladus Fountain at Versailles, cleaned in 2020]